Be on the lookout for utility scammers

Posted on Oct 25 2017 in Steuben County REMC

Con artists are everywhere, and too often they prey on unsuspecting consumers. Sometimes they even seem to know a consumer’s account number or how much the person typically pays each month. The caller sounds legitimate and credible, but in reality, the call is a scam.

These types of scams have surfaced across the country over the last several years, robbing people of millions.

Co-ops and other utilities are fighting back. Last year, Utilities United Against Scams was formed and became a national effort, uniting more than 100 electric, gas and water utilities and associations, to combat utility scams.

Steuben County REMC has been increasing our communications to members to raise awareness of these frauds. In honor of National Utility Scam Awareness Day on Nov. 15, we want to inform you of a recent scam that targets electric consumers.

The con artist calls members from an 800 number that looks like a valid utility company’s number. However, spoofing software allows the crooks to display what appears to be an official number on the caller ID.

In a vast majority of cases, the scammer tries to convince you that your service will be shut off if you don’t pay immediately, especially with untraceable cash such as a prepaid debit card. Worse, some scammers try to con you into giving your account number and bank information over the phone.

Don’t be fooled! Hang up instead!

Know that your REMC will NEVER call you to threaten disconnection and immediate payment. If you are in danger of service disconnection, you will receive written notice of issues or you can check your account status through your secure online account. Your co-op may provide a courtesy call just to let you know that you are up for disconnection, but we will never threaten you to pay on the spot; if you feel more comfortable, call the office back to pay your amount. Better yet, come into our office and we will talk with you about any concerns you have about your bill.

Call Steuben County REMC at the number listed on your bill. We are here to help you.

Other tips:

Never show your utility bill to anyone who comes to your door.

Don’t allow any unauthorized person or caller to “review” your account and billing information under the guise of needing this information to lower your bill. Call us first instead. Only our trained energy advisors can provide authentic verification of who they are and who they represent.

Never give your personal information, account number or social security number to anyone offering a reduced rate due to a federal program. There is no such thing! This is an identity theft scam!

While official energy assistance benefits do exist, check this government website to find out more —

When in doubt, call us first. Steuben County REMC is happy to provide you with the information you need to manage your energy costs.

You can help raise awareness, too. Warn others about these scams and inform your local authorities and utility company.Together, we can help others from falling victim to these thieves.